In my AP European History class, we recently read Marx's Communist Manifesto and the class had an informal discussion about why real-world applications of communism tend to do poorly even though the concept looks and sounds brilliant. We came to the conclusion that it's due to the human element.
I've been longing for a rationalist society in which every major decision would be based in logic, not in tradition or anything like that (tradition could be integrated in a "Most people will agree that the tradition of having weekends off is worth keeping" kind of way). Of course, I realize that nobody can be entirely rational 100% of the time and that many people can barely be entirely rational 25% of the time.
And so I wrote this- the Rationalist Manifesto- during English class instead of reading about Herman Melville (which reminds me, when I finish typing this up, I really must start reading Moby Dick). I post it here for you with no changes (not even where I questioned my word choice while re-reading it). Enjoy.
I do not know what kind of person I am. I thirst for knowledge and for change- for revolution- yet I know not how to even approach such a thing. Who must I call to make the rich treat the poor with common decency? To whom do I have to send a letter- and on what kind of letterhead- to get religion out of politics?
I want society to change for the better, even if (perhaps especially if) this change must be gradual. I want rationality, critical thinking, and the desire to learn to be cherished above all else. What will it take?
Many others have tried before me to create a fresh society comprised entirely of rational beings, and it seems the consistent problem of such groups has been the human element. You can witness this even in small, unorganized, friendly groups of intellectuals: someone becomes upset and the entire group becomes absurdly and violently reactionary. If it is too much to expect even a small, (presumably) carefully selected group of people to work, live, laugh, and love in a consistently rational environment, one cannot possibly expect the same of an entire city, state, country, continent, hemisphere, or planet. No world is perfect, after all. Unfortunate, but true.
So I admit that a solely rational world is not feasible. Anyone who thinks otherwise is overestimating humanity. (I've been there; I'm not judging. Really and truthfully, one's thoughts and actions must be fairly laudable in order to expect so much of others. Laudable in their rationality, of course, not necessarily in their morality.) So we cannot expect that, and it is important that we remember this.
But one can dream- oh, one can dream.
Drop a comment below with your thoughts on the possibility or impossibility of a rational society.